Police officers honoured with award for reducing anti-social behaviour in Lowestoft

PC Jon France (L) and Sgt Rob Meen (R) received the award for tackling anti-social behaviour in Lowe

PC Jon France (L) and Sgt Rob Meen (R) received the award for tackling anti-social behaviour in Lowestoft. Photo: Suffolk Constabulary - Credit: Archant

Two Lowestoft police officers and their team have been recognised for their efforts in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in the local area.

Sergeant Rob Meen and PC Jon France, who serve for the Suffolk Constabulary in Lowestoft, were commended at an awards ceremony held at Suffolk New College on Wednesday, June 14.

They received the 'Proud to Serve Suffolk Award' for tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, a gong sponsored by former Suffolk Police Authority chairmann Gulshan Kayembe.

The ceremony was attended by dignitaries including Suffolk High Sheriff Geoffrey Probert, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and Chief Constable Gareth Wilson.

A number of officers and staff members were rewarded for their hard work and dedication, with Sgt Meen and PC France congratulated specifically for clamping down on the anti-social behaviour that had previously plagued some parts of Lowestoft.

Sgt Meen emphasised that it was a good feeling for the force to have received such praise for their recent endeavours.

'We put in a lot of hard work and spent a lot of hours on a patrol,' he said.

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'I'd like to express my thanks to the special constable force who have been really helpful and give up their own time to assist us. We should also thank the local community because, without people getting in touch with us, we don't always know where anti-social behaviour is taking place.'

Calls to the local police force in relation to anti-social behaviour, or ASB, spiked in the middle of last year, leaving Sgt Meen and PC France with the task of solving a continually worsening problem.

The number of ASB reports has now dramatically reduced to an average of just one or two a day, far less than last year's figures.

'At its height last summer, we were receiving four or five calls a day for anti-social behaviour. Before that we had never seen it so bad,' said PC France, who has been in the police force for over 24 years.

'There was a particular group of about 20 or so people, but we took a stance where, if they'd done something wrong, they'd know we'd be coming to reprimand them.

'This summer is so much better and the trouble that we've had isn't anything compared to last year.'

Although Sgt Meen and PC France led the force's efforts to combat Lowestoft's ASB issues, they maintain that improvements wouldn't have been made without the contribution of a number of local people, organisations and governing bodies.

Meetings attended by housing services, education welfare officers and social services were organised by the police force to try and formulate a successful strategy.

They also worked closely with Waveney District Council to create a questionnaire that allowed people in the community to voice their concerns.

'We've worked with so many different agencies and services, pretty much every influential organisation in the area,' added Sgt Meen.

'It's all about us working with parents and making them aware of what their children are up to.

'Overall they were on side with us; they're shocked and disappointed when they find out that their kids are involved with anti-social behaviour.'

Recent feedback from members of the public with regards to ASB has been notably positive, culminating in Sgt Meen and PC France receiving their award at the recent constabulary ceremony.

'The ultimate measure to determine how successful we've been is what the community says to us,' said Sgt Meen.

PC France added that, despite initial frustrations amongst members of the public, the work of the Lowestoft team has been widely acknowledged.

'We receive a lot of thankful emails from local people, many of them saying that we've changed their lives.'

'At the end of the day,' concluded Sgt Meen, 'I suppose that's one of the main reasons people go into the police force in the first place: to make a difference in the local area.'

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